The purpose of your diary is to help you identify patterns of behavior and specific recurring elements that really "push your buttons".
An anger diary or journal can be a useful tool to help you track your experiences with anger. Make daily entries into your diary that document the situations you encounter that provoked you. In order to make the diary most useful, there are particular types of information you'll want to record for each provoking event.
At the base of all trigger thoughts is the notion that people are not behaving properly and that you have every right to be angry with them. Most people find a few thoughts that frequently trigger their anger. Look for instances of situations that trigger your anger and see if you can't identify the particular set of triggering thoughts that really do it for you.
The more accurately you can observe your feelings and behaviors and the more detailed your anger diary, the more likely you will be able to identify anger triggers and how you react to them. Understanding the ways in which you experience anger can help you plan strategies to cope with your emotions in more productive ways.
- What have I lost? Is the loss real?
- What is its value to me?
- Why do I perceive this as important?
- Was this my loss or was it someone else's? What are their views regarding this loss? How do you know? Why do you care?
- Do I feel insulted? Why?
- Has my ego been attacked?
- Have I lost some dignity?
- Was I ridiculed or humiliated?
- Has my reputation been damaged?
- Do I feel less competent?
- Was I denied fair recognition or reward?
- Is the insult groundless or is it an accurate interpretation of my behavior?
- What is the asymmetry that bothers me so much?
- Do I feel powerless?
- Have I lost autonomy?
- Do I feel cheated?
- Was I taken for a sucker?
- Was a trust betrayed? Was privacy breached?
- Was I coerced into submission or obedience?
- Have I been threatened, injured, struck, abused, attacked, or intimidated?
- Has anyone trespassed on my territory?
- Have my goals been thwarted?
- Have my freedoms been abridged?
- Is my safety or security reduced?
- Is my legacy diminished?
- Have I lost power?
- Have I lost stature?
- Have I lost strength?
- Have I lost influence?
- Have I lost access?
- Has a relationship been damaged?
- From a rational point of view, how big is this loss? What impact will it have?
- How can I recover?
- Can I just ignore the issue?
- What happened that gave you pain or made you feel stressed?
- What was provocative about the situation?
- What thoughts were going through your mind?
- On a scale of 0-100 how angry did you feel? (Rage Rating)
- What was the effect of your behavior on you, on others?
- Were you already nervous, tense, and pressured about something else? If so, what?
- How did your body respond? Did you notice your heart racing, your palms sweating?
- Did you want to flee from the pressure or perhaps throw something?
- Did you feel like screaming or did you notice that you were slamming doors or becoming sarcastic?
- What did you actually do?
- How did you feel immediately after the episode?
- Did you feel differently later in the day or the next day?
- What were the consequences of the incident?
After recording this information for a week or so, review your diary and look for reoccurring themes or "triggers" that make you mad. Triggers often fall into one of several categories, including:
- Other people doing or not doing what you expect them to do
- Situational events that get in your way, such as traffic jams, computer problems, ringing telephones, etc.
- People taking advantage of you
- Being angry and disappointed in yourself
- A combination of any of the above
You'll also want to look for anger - triggering thoughts that reoccur again and again. You can recognize these particular thoughts because they will generally involve one or more of the following themes:
- The perception that you have been victimized or harmed.
- The belief that the person who provoked you meant you deliberately harm.
- The belief that the OTHER person was wrong, that they should have behaved differently, that they were evil or stupid to harm you.
Use your anger diary to identify instances when you felt harm was done to you, why you thought the act was done deliberately, and why you thought that it was wrong. Tracking your thought patterns will help you begin to see the common themes in your experiences. Here are some examples of trigger thoughts to get you started:
- People do not pay enough attention to your needs; they do not care about you.
- People demand/expect too much of you.
- People are rude or inconsiderate.
- People take advantage or use you.
- People are selfish; they think only of themselves.
- People criticize, shame, or disrespect you.
- People are cruel or mean.
- People are incompetent or stupid.
- People are thoughtless and irresponsible.
- People are lazy and refuse to do their share.
- People try to control or manipulate you.
- People cause you to have to wait.
And here is a list of situations where these themes are likely to occur:
- When stating a difference of opinion
- While receiving and expressing negative feelings
- While dealing with someone who refuses to cooperate
- While speaking about something that annoys you
- While protesting a rip-off
- When saying "No"
- While responding to undeserved criticism
- When asking for cooperation
- While proposing an idea
Resolutely refuse to treat the opponent as an enemy.
Focus on the process of resolution rather than blaming the other person. Watch your own need to be right and forcing your way of seeing things on the other person.
Do not try to engage your opponent in a fight.
Try to come to a truthful alternative without alienating the other person.
Examine the principle beneath the conflict. State the principle and keep the focus on it.
Separate out the truth and untruthful positions of each side.
Convince the opponent that the fight is worthwhile and his positions will be considered.
Fight with integrity by satisfying both sides that their position have been honored.
Be forceful and encouraging in finding a peaceful solution at the same time.
Start carrying out nonviolence means, as if you have the right to do so.
The goal becomes the means. "As the means, so the ends."
Search for a broader solution rather than focusing on a narrower one.
Identify the Higher Moral authority and what you are doing to support life in regards to the conflict. Find the common ground between you. What do you agree on? Agree to agree on what is agreeable. Put your initials on that aspect of the argument that is settled. Go on to the next easiest concern, and sign off on it when there is agreement. Work your way through the different points of the conflict, one by one focusing on your integrity and these principles of nonviolence.
- Journaling, playing or listening to music, draw, watch a funny movie, exercise, bake, skateboard, punch a punching bag or whatever you like to do that is a healthy coping skill.
- Problem solve and come up with an action plan
- Find friends to help you with your problem
- Involve an objective 3rd party.
- Talk to a counsellor, therapist, or teacher
Who could this person be for you? ________
- Use the “empty chair” exercise. Pretend you’re sitting across from the person who you’re angry with and say what is on your mind.
- Write a letter to the person you are angry with.
You could describe your feelings right now and at the time the event took place, or both. You can destroy the letter, save it, or give it to the person when the time is right.
- Use relaxations techniques
Music, mindfulness, guided imagery, self-help tapes and muscle relaxation techniques.
- Positive self-talk, affirmations
Work to accepting the things that you can not change, it could be certain people, situations, past, present and future.
- Make realistic expectations
If you are unable to change something that you want to change….
- Realize the powerlessness over the situation.
- Give yourself a time limit to be angry and then let it go!
- Constantly remind yourself “I cannot afford to stay angry. What benefits me by staying angry?”
- Recognize the need for forgiveness. “No painful event is allowed to contribute to my anger more than one time. “
- Focus on the present time
- Use humor to defuse the tension in the situation
- Put anger on a safe, inanimate object (punching bag, large rubber ball or pillow)
- Use movement and exercise to release anger.
- Write or draw out your negative feelings.
- Share feelings and talk your anger out. "I feel angry, when you _____"
- Confront others appropriately and set boundaries with them.
- Problem solve the situation.
- Leave unhealthy situations. Take a take time out to cool down then come back to talk
- Take constructive action. Change the word mad to mean "make a difference"
- Breathe! center and calm yourself so you can think clearly.
- Learn about your self and the other person
- Observe what you are doing. Watch your reactions, thoughts & feelings
- Change the meaning you gave the angering event.
These latter reactions are the most helpful and healthy. They increase your self esteem by allowing you to be in control, not your anger!
Do you do the same old thing over and over with your anger? Here's a challenge. See if you can increase the number of anger responses you have instead of doing the same-o, same-o thing each time.
Move more of your anger responses into ones that empower you. Make a conscious choice to use positive anger responses!
Remember, it's OK to be angry.
It's what you do with it that counts.